For Fast Romantics, it has been four years of adventuring their way through the backcountry of Canadian indie-rock, often attempting to straddle that hazy intersection at the corner of rock n’ roll and pop. Now, with their second full-length album Afterlife Blues, it sounds as though they have — quite confidently — found their way home.
While Fast Romantics’ earlier work prompted comparisons to Elvis Costello and Blur, Afterlife Bluescarves a bit of a different path right through the great cities of American music. From New Jersey to Detroit, and then cutting down through the heartland, they have somehow managed to combine all of these sounds without selling their distinctly Canadian souls.
Singer/songwriter Matthew Angus says that working with producer Howard Redekopp for a second time meant that they could really relax and just be themselves. Once they got going, it became clear that the ten songs on the new LP would come out a lot easier than on past recordings.
“We did a lot of soul searching over the last few years, and now it feels like we’re nothing but soul,” he laughs. “It’s funny what can happen when you go through enough shit. I was taking stock one day and it suddenly hit me that I’d broken up with a lot of people and never bothered to write about it. It all flowed out from there.”
When asked if that means that Afterlife Blues is a breakup album, Angus says not quite. “Well maybe on one level, yeah. There’s that cycle of heartache and stumbling upon love, dying and then waking back up. I’m not trying to be all that clever anymore, lyrically a lot of it is dead simple. Like music from the early ’60s, when you could just spill your guts, and people would thank you for it, and that would be that.
“It’s not all heartbreak. You know, we like it loud, and I think it actually feels pretty playful and even euphoric at times. There’s a good blend of blood, guts, and bliss. That’s the sort of record we wanted to make.”
Such highs and lows are likely what has helped to build the high energy stage show that has attracted such a growing following. The band has played three tours, and many large festivals including Virgin Fest, SXSW, NXNE, and CMJ. They also found themselves winners of Spin Magazine’s “Free the Noise” competition that saw them flown to New York City to perform in a temporarily rebuilt CBGB’s.
Their music has also found its way onto many TV shows and films, including Shameless, Breaking In, Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars, and their first single, “Funeral Song,” has already found warm reception in the short time since its online release.
The band formed in 2008 in Calgary during what Angus calls a ‘whiskey storm.’ Angus and the two other founding members — bassist Jeffrey Lewis and drummer Alan Reain — were joined last year by two Australian ex-pats, Shane O’ Keeffe and Lauren Heron. Angus says the two “brought exactly what we were missing at exactly the right time” to the group, including what he calls “those dreamy foreign-sounding accents.”
Fans can expect a tour of Canada and the US fall 2013, and the release of Afterlife Blues on October 8, 2013.